FISCAL NOTE

Date Requested: February 12, 2020
Time Requested: 09:14 AM
Agency: Secretary of State
CBD Number: Version: Bill Number: Resolution Number:
1473 Introduced HB4742
CBD Subject: Elections


FUND(S):

0155

Sources of Revenue:

Other Fund New Fund

Legislation creates:

Creates New Expense, Creates New Fund: Vote By Mail Fund



Fiscal Note Summary


Effect this measure will have on costs and revenues of state government.


    Costs to state government will increase substantially due new expenses for (1) paper ballot printing, (2) postage, (3) supplies (envelopes, instruction cards, etc.), (4) sorting and/or tabulating equipment, and (5) labor.



Fiscal Note Detail


Effect of Proposal Fiscal Year
2020
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
2021
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
Fiscal Year
(Upon Full
Implementation)
1. Estmated Total Cost 0 0 5,736,000
Personal Services 0 0 0
Current Expenses 0 0 0
Repairs and Alterations 0 0 0
Assets 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0
2. Estimated Total Revenues 0 0 0


Explanation of above estimates (including long-range effect):


    Per research conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures (https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/all-mail-elections.aspx), "All-mail elections greatly increase printing costs for an election. Additionally, jurisdictions must have appropriate equipment to read paper ballots at a central location, and changing from electronic equipment to equipment that can scan paper ballots can be expensive."
    
    The PEW report from Colorado's 2014 vote-by-mail election total cost per vote was $9.56 (https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2016/03/colorado-voting-reforms-early-results), broken down as:
    $3.07 per ballot for printing;
    $1.96 per ballot for labor;
    $3.48 per ballot for rental (undefined what "rental" refers to);
    $0.87 per ballot for postage (note: Oregon State Election Director reported orally to the undersigned that Oregon's vote-by-mail postage costs $1.68 per ballot); and
    $0.18 per ballot for "miscellaneous."
    
    The bill requires paper ballots be mailed to all registered voters in the participating jurisdiction. Assuming all 55 counties opt-in, with approx. 1.2 million registered voters, the total cost of the election can be very roughly estimated to cost $11,472,000. The state share is 50%, which comes out to approx. $5,736,000 in new expenses.
    
    Note that additional costs beyond those reflected above are likely to occur due to (1) additional needed tabulation equipment in each county, (2) mail sorting equipment, (3) physical space rental for processing ballots, (4) ballot dropboxes and securing devices, (5) additional county staff salaries (whether temporary or permanent), and (6) travel reimbursement to and from dropbox locations during the voting period. However, without estimates from several vendors and services providers, it is impossible to estimate those costs in good faith.



Memorandum


    Under the Help America Vote Act, counties must provide some form of accessible voting to voters living with disabilities (e.g. blind or visually impaired voters). This bill makes no accommodation for those voters in opt-in counties, which may violate the Help America Vote Act of 2004 (as amended), as well as WV Constitution Article 4, section 2, which provides all WV voters the opportunity to vote by secret ballot (i.e. blind or visually impaired voters in vote-by-mail counties will be forced to vote via paper ballot, which requires those voters with such physical disabilities to have some other person mark the ballot on the voter's behalf. This violates the voter's constitutional right to a secret ballot).
    
    Current county costs for electronic voting equipment will decrease in vote-by-mail counties because the need for several machines per county will decrease. However, it is strongly recommended to include a provision that details and requires counties to have an ADA-compliant voting machine or other accessible means of voting available at various locations throughout the county to make reasonable accommodations for voters with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Help America Vote Act.



    Person submitting Fiscal Note: Donald Kersey
    Email Address: dkersey@wvsos.gov